Thelma M. Garner, 81, a retired Lucas County deputy recorder and a church and Democratic Party volunteer who with her late husband, Lucius, made a point of helping the ill and housebound, died Thursday in Toledo Hospital from complications of kidney failure.
She had been a dialysis patient about nine years, her daughter Maxine Rose said.
Mrs. Garner of central Toledo was a deputy in the Lucas County Recorder s Office for 10 years, retiring in 1977.
She was the only African-American woman in the office. I was the only Jewish woman in those days. We sort of formed an alliance, said Sandy Isenberg, a former county recorder and county commissioner who was a deputy recorder when she met Mrs. Garner.
We were friends and were confidantes, and I used to make her laugh, Ms. Isenberg recalled. She was a class act all the way. She was one in a million.
Mrs. Garner was a dedicated Democrat, volunteered at the polls for years, and was a member of the Perry Burroughs Democratic Women s Club.
It was an important part of her life, her daughter said.
Mrs. Garner s brother-in-law, Harold Garner, was a two-term city councilman and a dedicated Republican.
He was totally on the opposite end, her daughter said. But sitting around the table, they had many an interesting talk about politics.
Mrs. Garner was a lifetime member of St. Paul Baptist Church, where as a member of the Deaconess Board of which she had been chairman she was regarded as a mother of the church and had a say in policies and standards. She was a former president of the Nurses Guild and taught adult Sunday school.
In recent years, she was a member of Family Baptist Church.
She and her husband had their own ministry: to pay home visits and help people. Sometimes, they provided transportation to grocery stores or appointments. Sometimes they washed dishes and scrubbed floors. She did so much, and sometimes with so little. But she was such a hard worker, her daughter said.
She had been a dietitian at the Frederick Douglass Community Center. When she retired from the recorder s office, she became dietitian at Sunrise Day Nursery, which was run by her late daughter Theotress Badgett.
Mrs. Garner, one of two children, wanted a large family and had six children, her daughter Linda said.
Her husband of 57 years, Lucius Garner, Jr., died Aug. 31, 2000.
Surviving are her son, William Garner; daughters, Maxine Rose, Janet Adams, and Linda Garner, newsroom office manager at The Blade; six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be 4 p.m. Tuesday in the Dale-Riggs Funeral Home Chapel, with wake services at 6 p.m. and Eastern Star services at 7 p.m. in the mortuary. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Family Baptist Church.